Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cloudy Day Photos

Daniel bought me a new scrapbook magazine this week when I wasn't feeling very well. I'm so tired of being sick! The magazine gave some tips for better photo taking that didn't require any fancy camera knowledge about f-stops (or whatever). It also suggested trying to take photos on an overcast day. Since today was a perfect overcast day the kids and I went for a walk while Daniel was sleeping and I took photos. These are some of the good ones.

Cooking, Cleaning, and Snakes

Daniel let the girls plan and cook dinner the other night. They decided to make chicken noodle soup and corn. It was an interesting meal, but we all enjoyed it. They also made oatmeal cookies from scratch using healthy substitutes like Splenda and low fat butter.

They are becoming quite the little homemakers. They cook, can do their own laundry, clean up the living room and basement, clean their own rooms, and Gloria even scrubbed the bathtub yesterday! We're just now starting to teach them to do dishes, too. Pretty soon I'm going to be out of a job, lol. Now if we could just get them to do these things in a short amount of time. Their regular duties include clearing the table and sweeping the floor after every meal, but just that can take them an hour while they procrastinate, talk, and find excuses to do other things.

I was glad that Gloria wanted to scrub the tub, because it was pretty gross. We cleaned my trombone for the first time in a long time. It got a complete bath and we scrubbed it with a snake which caused all kinds of disgusting things to come out and float in the bath water. It looked like fish food floating to the bottom...ew! When we drained the tub it left a black ring around the inside. Danya helped me dry all the pieces out as much as we could, then we let it sit overnight to finish drying. After we oiled the slide and reassembled it the next morning it sounded and worked a whole lot better.

Surprised by Kindness

In the praise band at my church I sit in between two other brass players; the lead trombone (a man named Ron) and a trumpet player. Last Wednesday night at practice Ron gave me a surprise gift. It was a 3 ring binder full of worship music and Christmas music for trombone. It also contained two CDs of the songs for me to play along with. He created the whole thing so that I'd be able to practice at home and get used to keeping up with the music at the right tempo.

He also said my playing is improving and that he thinks I'll be ready to start playing with the band on Sundays pretty soon. I really needed the encouragement because I've been nervous about my playing ability. I don't want to make the band sound bad and distract people who are trying to focus on God during praise and worship. He says I just need to play out stronger and be more confident.

Then I got another surprise. The trumpet player (who switches back and forth between playing two different kinds of trumpets!) asked me if I owned a trombone stand. I said that I didn't and he told me that he happens to have one that I can have! I'm just humbled at the kindness from two people who don't know me at all and are helping me for no discernible reason. I've already been enjoying the new trombone music and playing along with the CDs. It's fairly simple music, the hard part is playing at tempo. I can tell that I'm improving in just these last three days. It really is a great gift.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


This is exactly how I feel: The Definition of Courage

Keep praying with us that God will bring our new kids to us soon. We're going to keep hounding Adams county until we get a placement. The wait is so hard.

Now Hear This

Today I picked up my new hearing aide from the audiologist. It's tiny and very hard to see when I'm wearing it. It's got a watch battery inside and comes with a remote control. Thankfully, my insurance paid for all of it. I need to buy batteries for the remote, so I haven't gotten to try that yet.

So far the sound has been great! I hear a whole lot better without it seeming overwhelming. I can even hear the kids whisper behind me when I'm driving! Instead of asking, "What? What did you say?" all the time, I'm now saying, "You don't have to shout!" It's a little weird getting used to the pressure of having something in my ear constantly, but I figure it's like adjusting to new glasses or contacts. After a while I won't notice it that much.

The best part so far has been that when I practiced my trombone today the sound was 100% better! It improved my playing because I could hear the notes, so it increased my confidence. I've been wavering on my decision to play in our church praise band, because I felt like I've become a much worse trombone player since high school. I had NO IDEA that my ability to play could be affected so much by my hearing! Last time I practiced with the band the other trombone player suggested that I should work on "getting my lip into shape". I can't wait for him to hear the improvement tonight at practice!

Now I just have to make a list of any noises that are too loud or too soft so that the audiologist can make any necessary adjustments to my hearing aide next week. I'm already in love with hearing again!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Haircut Helpers

Here are our two budding cosmotologists buzzing their dad's hair. They were so excited to get to do this for the first time! They did really well. They didn't even accidentally nick his ears like I sometimes do. After they each did half of his head I finished it up, evened it out, and trimmed his bushy eyebrows.

You know, the downside of marrying a man when he's only 19 is that you have no idea how much harrier he's going to get as he ages, lol.

Rainy Day Stories

It rained alot yesterday, so we did some rainy day projects. I used one of my monthly reproducible idea books to photo copy pictures of an umbrella. They were designed to make a paper bag puppet, but we used them for a frame for our stories instead. The girls each wrote a story about a rainy day, then we put them in the center of the umbrellas.

We did the same thing recently with a design intended to make a dog paper bag puppet. I like this idea because they get tired of puppets and it encourages them to write. When we did the dogs, it went along with a bible story we read about a verse that warns people not to meddle in other people's fights/arguments, because it's about as wise as "taking a dog by the ears".

Monday, September 24, 2007

Goodbye Princess!

Today our Princess went back home to her other foster family. All her loyal subjects are saddened. Kevin kept demanding to kiss her again and again. He even said her name today!

We took these photos of her this morning. I ran through the rain to get them printed at Sam's club before her foster dad arrived to pick her up. He said he'll make sure they go with her wherever she goes. She's such a good baby. We can't wait to be foster parents again!

Whatcha' Got Cookin'?

This morning the girls helped make breakfast. They basically did everything except crack the eggs. It was delicious. They are turning into very good cooks.

Earlier this week, while my dad was here, we made a huge breakfast. Wednesday morning we had pancakes, bacon, and eggs. Dad told the girls about how when I was Danya's age, he would make pancakes as big as the plate and I could stuff a whole pancake in my mouth at once and eat it. Attractive, no? lol. I told the girls that once my dad let all six of us kids pick our own cereal at the store. Then for breakfast we got giant bowls and mixed all the different kinds together. Dad said we called it "Cereal Salad".

Princess at Church

We got to show Princess off at church yesterday. Lots of people gave us a funny look at first and came over to ask if she was ours. Like I had somehow been pregnant and they just hadn't noticed, lol. She did really good and slept almost the whole time. We prayed for her future and her protection in our Sunday school class.

The girls and I matched with our red polka dot dresses (I know you'll appreciate the fun of that, Christina!). I was wearing mine to celebrate my 50 lbs weight loss. This was the dress I wore to my reunion. It fits better now, actually loose around the waist.

Last night Sarah and Shannon babysat the kids while Daniel and I went to the new members class at our pastor's house. They only have the class a few times a year, so we really didn't want to miss it. It was hard leaving Princess with our 15 year old babysitter, though. The class was good. We got to ask questions, read the church's statement of faith, speak to the pastor, and learn the church's history. We confirmed that if Gloria decides to accept Christ as her Lord and Savior within the next year, she'll be baptized in the church after she turns seven. It's the church's policy not to baptize anyone younger than seven. We learned a lot and even invited some people to our Sunday school class. Oh, and the kids were all just fine when we got home.

Toys and Laundry

We finally remembered that we still had Kevin's baby swing out in the garage yesterday. So I brought it in and let Princess use it. She liked it, especially the lights that blink along with the music. Unfortunately the battery was going dead, so it didn't last long. Kevin was angry that he wasn't allowed to shake the swing while Princess was in it. He seems to think that all toys in this house are his.

Meanwhile, I feel like I live in the laundry room. This baby goes through an enormous amount of laundry. She threw up in her bassinet twice last night and had to have all her bedding changed. All week long she's been going through multiple outfits, burp cloths, and blankets. I do a load a day, mostly all her things, just to keep up! We're also going to have to get a wet/dry vac to clean the living room carpet because she's decorated it so thoroughly with milk.

She's worth all the craziness, though. Especially when she looks at us, sighs, closes her eyes, and sprawls with her arms thrown out in that "I trust you completely" pose while she sleeps. Even Kevin can't resist her charm. He's been patting her and giving her kisses while saying, "Baby!"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quiet During the Storm

This week has been so much harder than I expected it would be. My dad suffered from altitude sickness while he was here and was up all night trying to breathe. He left early on Wednesday and said that he was able to sleep when they stayed the night in Salina, KS.

We all came down with a stomach virus. Kevin got it first, projectile vomiting outside the restaurant we went to Tuesday night. Then Princess got it, then me, now Daniel. I've heard from my sister in Oklahoma that my dad and his wife, Willie, also have it. It seems to run its course in about 3 days, but it's miserable while you have it.

Daniel had to go back to work beginning on Wednesday night so I was sick and running back and forth between two sick babies and the bathroom all night long. The upside is that as of this morning I've lost more weight and officially reached 50 lbs weight loss! Right now we're gathering up the kids so that we can get some groceries and print pictures from the photo shoot I did of Princess the other morning. We're going to give them to her foster mom to hold for when she gets settled permanently.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hanging Out with Grandpa Richie

Here's a few photos of the kids with Grandpa Richie. We played Bible Trivia today. This was a board game that I played with him and my brother and half brothers and step sisters when I was 7 years old. I found it at a yard sale a few years ago and couldn't resist. My dad was always so good at this game. He used to play it with pastors and win! He used to have a prize for the winner when we were kids. We'd play once a week and whoever won would get a brand new bible. I remember that right before I flew back home to Oklahoma (we'd been living with him for a year in New Jersey) I finally won the game! I still have the bible my brother won.

Today my girls were awesome at this game! Danya knows all the books of the old and new testament in order, so that helped. She also just has a fantastic memory of verses and stories. The first game Daniel, Gloria, and I won. The second game Danya, Dad, and his wife Willie won. The girls are loving listening to his imaginative stories and ideas. He read an Amelia Bedelia book to the girls today where she said, "If your last name is saurus, you're probably a dinosaur!" So he had the girls draw a picture of a "Danyasaurus" and a "Gloriasaurus". They had so much fun!

Family Resemblance?

When I was growing up people would always ask me where I got my blonde hair. My mom, brother, sister, and step-dad were all dark haired. My mom said I had my biological dad's hair, but that my brother had his face. She said I look like her sisters. I've met my aunts, just a few years ago, and I don't see any resemblance. Looking at this picture I took with my dad today I think I look like him. So what do you think? Any family resemblance? Of course, now my blonde hair comes from a bottle, but I see his face in mine.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Little Princess

Our first foster child ever arrived this afternoon. Her name starts with a "P" so I'll call her Princess for privacy reasons. She is absolutely beautiful. Her regular foster family seems wonderful, too. We get to keep her until a week from tomorrow. She looks a lot like Gloria did when she was born, only smaller. Blue eyes, spikey dark hair. I forgot that great baby smell. She's only 8 weeks old, but she looks around and smiles a lot.

Already I've gotten to change her tiny little diaper, feed her a bottle, and hold her until she fell asleep. Her foster mom says she only sleeps about five hours at night, so this should be a fun week, lol. We also will be taking her to see her family a couple of times this week. It will make the time with my dad a little crazy, but we're so happy to get to love her to pieces for a week!

Kevin is a bit mad at this interloper and tried several times to push Princess out of my arms. I tried to hold them both and he wrapped his arms around my neck while using one foot to try blocking me from the baby. It's good that Daniel is here so that we can take turns trading babies.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Adding Links to Your Posts

This is a public service announcement (PSA). I thought I'd share how to add a link in your posts so that you just click on the word instead of seeing the entire http: // www.blahblahblah info that, frankly, is just unattractive. Here's an example of how it works. If I wanted to post a link to my daughter Danya's blog I would go to her blog and copy the website address at the top of the page. Then I'd paste it into my post. It would look like this:

But I don't want it to look like that. So I click on the "Edit Html" tab and I see that in Html the information I just pasted looks like this:

< href=""> < /a>

The first part inside of these arrows: < > is the important part. Leave that alone. The next part where it repeats the information is where you want to change it. So I would delete that part and change it to look like this:

< href="">Danya's Blog < /a>

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle! Good luck and happy blogging!

It's All GREEK to Me!

We just finished reading Magic Tree House Hour of the Olympics today. We already studied alot about ancient Greece earlier this year, so we're just doing a few little things. We're reading about modern Greece and learning a few words that have their roots in the Greek language. This morning the girls painted pictures of Greek children wearing traditional Greek costumes.

I like to schedule our homeschooling so that we are finishing up our last "formal" lesson or project at the kitchen table just before lunch time. That way I can be preparing lunch while supervising the girls as they work. Kevin usually wakes up from his morning nap at about this time as well.

Sum Swamp

We thought we'd lost this math game in the move. I found it today, oddly enough, stashed in one of my scrapbooking containers. The girls were overjoyed and Gloria yelled, "My birthday present!" She got this a couple of years ago for her birthday.

Actually, a lot of the girls' gifts for birthdays and holidays are educational gifts now that we homeschool. They don't mind and we get much more use and enjoyment out of them than they do out of a toy that gets cast aside within a few weeks and forgotten about. This game uses addition and subtraction, but we are thinking up ways to use it for multiplication and division, too. Sum Swamp is fun, easy, and I love that it counts for homeschooling while giving us a rest from worksheets.

Spelling Mix Up

I got an Abeka spelling book recently that I'm going to try incorporating into our lessons. The girls wrote the spelling words which deal with the rule "i before e, except after c, or when sounded like "ay" as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh' " on their easles (which we use like a chalkboard and bulletin board) yesterday. Today they wrote them neatly in their handwriting books.

Then I wrote each word in a different color, spaced out, on a piece of paper. The girls cut the letters apart and then mixed all of them together. Then they raced to see how fast they could reassemble the words. They enjoyed it although they wanted to get competitive to see who could do it faster. I made them do it as a team so there would be no hard feelings, also because Gloria is younger and just doesn't spell as fast. Then I printed out the list of words and taped them to a ziplock bag to store the letters in so that they can keep practicing all week.

Homemade With Love

These are the birthday cards I made with my scrapbooking supplies the other day. It was fun making these, since normally I only make cards for my nieces and nephews. They usually have a sticker of Big Bird or some other cute character on them. I enjoyed making "grown up" birthday cards for a change, lol. The most fun part was stamping the flowers on my sister's card with some Stampin' Up! stamps I got a few years ago. I've only used them a couple of times in all these years, but I think they are really pretty. On the other card, for my friend Glenda, there are these beautiful embossed butterflies on the blue paper, but they didn't stand out enough, so I outlined one of them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Book Blessing

Danya's Tuesday charter school for homeschoolers that she attended last year had a curriculum swap yesterday. It was almost entirely free books that the main charter school, Woodrow Wilson Academy, was giving away. They are getting newer additions of the Saxon math books.

Daniel and I have been talking about the Saxon 54 book (roughly 4th grade math) for a while now. We looked at it online and heard a lot of other homeschoolers say they use it. The problem is that the books are very expensive. We got the main textbook free yesterday along with the book for the next grade! Then the director of the program told us to come by the main school today and they'd give us some more free materials that go with it.

So the girls and I drove over there today and got the 1st through 4th grade workbooks and the Test Masters books that go with the 4th and 5th grade books. Yesterday we also got the spelling book and Highlights for Kids mathbooks free, too. What a blessing! Sometimes it feels like every single item we tell God that we need He provides: This house, our van, school books, homeschooling friends, the kitchen table. God is good!

Cut Short

Here's a picture of my new haircut. I actually like it this time! I didn't really expect the hair stylist to be able to do much. The last few times I've gotten my hair cut I've been pretty unhappy with it. I think this look is cute.

That was the good thing that happened today. The really upsetting thing came just afterwords. A very nice caseworker that's always been helpful and friendly called today about the baby we'll be watching next week. She is so great, she even asked around for me to find out if we got the group of 4 kids.

It turns out that our homestudy paperwork was never even submitted to the caseworker. It was not true that we were being considered as a potential family for them. I think I'd feel okay about it if I knew that we just weren't the best choice for the kids. It feels so unfair that we were given false hope for two weeks every time we called and that we might have been the best match for them, but now we'll never know. I just have to hope they'll be with a great family and trust that God has a different better plan for us.

Sidewalk Artists

We got to meet our neighbor's grand daughter yesterday. She's 4 and adorable. We pulled out some chalk and the kids got to spend some time creating chalk masterpieces, outlining each other on the sidewalk, and playing hopscotch.

Kevin fell instantly in love with the little girl's shoes. They had carebears and rainbows on them. He kept scooting on his tush right through the chalk drawings to get near her so that he could touch her shoes and babble at her. He was pretty much covered in chalk dust by the time we went inside to wash up. I was just happy that he understood that chalk is for coloring and not eating.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An Unexpected Phone Call

The phone rang this morning at about 11a.m. and it was an Adams County social worker calling!! I about fell out of my chair I was so excited! It was the same woman who came to do the safety inspection of our home. So now it's good news/bad news time.

The bad news is that she didn't have any info on the decision about the group of kids, in fact she knew nothing about that. She did say the main "lady in charge", Renee, is supposed to be out on vacation for the rest of the week so we may have difficulty finding out what the decision was. Argh! Frustration!

The good news is that she was calling to ask if we'd accept a placement of a 2 month old baby girl for a week of "respite care" next week. That just means she'd stay with us for a week while her regular foster parents are unavailable. We said YES! We're excited to get an opportunity to be foster parents for a short amount of time so that we can see what it's like and figure out the process. Also, it will be fun to have a baby in the house when I'm not nursing or recovering from pregnancy/childbirth.

I just thought I'd give an update. I'll post as soon as I know something about the group of 4 siblings we're praying about.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Mission Accomplished

I've been trying hard to find time to scrapbook lately. If I'm lucky I might get a page done a week. That's only if I manage to steal an hour after the kids are all in bed on a night when I don't have homeschool papers to file, school work to prepare, chores to get done, blog photos to add, or any one of a dozen other things that suck up my time most nights.

I got these five pages and two cards completed today. The girls helped with the pages. I let them put tape on, ink the edges of the paper with an ink pad, and draw details around photo mats. It made the process slower, but they had fun helping. I'll post pictures of the cards in a few days after I know that the people I mailed them to got them. They came out really good! (Toni, Glenda, check your mail this week and let me know. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!)

*the top center scrapbook page was inspired by "True Beauty" a page by Emily Spahn in the Feb. 2007 issue of Scrapbook Trends magazine.

Hail the Conquering Hero!

My Hero. There's been a mouse in our kitchen for a couple of days now. We heard it three days ago and saw it for the first time two nights ago. We tried a "humane" plastic trap, but the mouse was too clever. It stole the food and got away.

Last night we bought some of the regular mouse traps. Tonight the mouse breathed his last. It got caught behind the stove while we were having dinner. Ew. Daniel, my brave husband, proudly displayed his "kill". All I can say is, "Thank goodness you're not a hunter" because I don't want any more dead furry things in my house. Ick Ick Ick! It probably came into our house because we've been having a cold spell here in Colorado. The temperature just dropped all of a sudden like nature remembered that it's supposed to be September outside.

Cruising Down the Hallway

Kevin is busting out all over the place lately! He's saying more words like "cook" for 'cookie', "baby", and "wok" for 'walk'. Today he even figured out that he could stand up by holding onto something.

He was having a blast walking back and forth from me to Daniel. He even turns corners and keeps walking! When he would fall down we'd say "stand up!" and he'd get back up by using his hands to push against the wall or furniture. He was so proud! He wouldn't even stay in our arms long enough to get a big hug. He just twisted around and wanted to go again!

My Day Off

Ha! Daniel and I decided a couple of months ago that I should get one day a month "off" where I can do anything I want to and he'll take care of the kids and the house. So far it hasn't worked well.

The plan is that I'm supposed to have time to scrapbook, read, and work on any little projects that I enjoy but never have time for. Today was the first time I actually managed to get any scrapbooking done. Here's what I did today on my "day off":

*4 loads of laundry
*made tuna pita pockets for lunch
*picked up the basement
*homeschool with the girls
*dealt with the science book salesman who arrived with our order
*made plans with my bio dad for a visit next week
*baked M&M peanut butter cookies from scratch with kids
*made cards for September birthdays with the girls
*helped make homemade pizza for dinner
*wrote a grocery list and put them away when Daniel got home
*cleaned the kitchen...twice
*scrapbooked...with the girls
*cleaned Kevin's room

I sure love having a liesurely day to myself to relax and unwind. At least Daniel did take Kevin with him to get groceries. I even got to watch about 20 minutes of a movie... Oh well, there's always next month, right?

Lunch with a Bunch

We went out for lunch with another homeschooling family that we met at our church recently. We got together at CiCi's Pizza. This was the first time that our kids had met each other. They had a great time and instantly hit it off!

We also had Shannon, Sarah, and Anna with us so there was quite a crowd of kids. It was loud and a little crazy, but we all had fun. It was great having Sarah's help with Kevin so that Daniel and I actually got a chance to get to know the other couple, Zane and Phelio. (She's Greek!)

Sarah actually asked us to please go out on a date so she could watch our kids last night, lol. She knows that once we get our new foster/adopt kids that we don't plan to have a "date night" for several months. We want them to feel secure and comfortable with our family before we leave them with a babysitter for the first time.


We gave Kevin his first hair cut yesterday and then spiked his hair with gel for church. It had all layed back down by yesterday afternoon, but it sure was cute while it lasted.

I'm sure we'll get better at doing the spike with practice. He thinks it's all amusing. He loves to sit on the bathroom counter and have his hair done and get his teeth brushed. He even has a special little sign he does that means "brush my teeth". He likes to brush his own teeth and hair sometimes, too.

Sick at Church

As you can see in this photo, Gloria had a great time at church yesterday. She and Mary were giggling and playing from the moment they sat down. Danya, on the other hand, hasn't been feeling well the past few days. She thought she was feeling better Sunday morning and wanted to come to church.

However, about two minutes after this photo was taken she ran out of TruthQuest and begged us to let her sit with us in "big church". She sang with us at the beginning of the service, but by the end she was miserable. We gave her some medicine and she felt better about 30 minutes later. I think it was just the tail end of having "the crud" (as my mom always called it) and she's been fine since then. All of us were sick about a week before that, but I don't think it was the same thing.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Practice Parenting a Crowd

Taking Sarah, Shannon, and Anna with us to church gives us a little bit of experience with bringing a large group of kids to church. It's good preparation since we hope to adopt a large sibling group.

There are so many little things that you don't think about before trying to shepard a big group of kids. For instance, trying to get everyone to the bathroom, or through a doorway, or finding seats together in church. It takes more time to load and unload the vehicle, and you also have to look in 10 different directions at once to make sure everyone is still together and no one is running out into the parking lot alone.

Granted, Sarah and Shannon aren't little kids, so it's not quite the same. However they do both try to talk to me at the same time while the little ones are tugging on my shirt or begging to be held. It can seem crazy at times, but it's strange how, in the midst of the storm, I still love it all. I like being "Mom". It's good to feel needed and I think I was born to organize. Daniel always takes it all in stride and comes in to scoop a kid out of my arms just in time when I'm getting overloaded with things to carry and kids to help. It's amazing to me how God knew that we'd make such a perfect parenting team. I don't mean that we are perfect, lol. I just mean that we seem like two parts of a whole. God is good. Life is good.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Books and Building

Online last night I found a library that was having a homeschool used book sale this weekend. So this morning we drove out to the Longmont, CO library. It wasn't much of a "homeschooling" book sale. The majority of it was college textbooks, computer how-to books, and kids fiction.

I found a few good ones, though. I got some old time Christian devotional books for families, a few science books for kids, and a neat 4-H leaders guide and activity pages set. Everything was 1-2 dollars, so I didn't spend much, but it was still fun. Danya came with me, but spent her time in the children's section of the library.

Meanwhile, Daniel and the other two kiddos went to a nearby Lowe's for their kids' building project day. It was a repeat of the squirrel feeder project, but Gloria still enjoyed it. Even Kevin got in on the act by banging a little hammer. After they were done they came to the library to get us. The kids all enjoyed the little puppet theatre in the children's section. Kevin liked snatching the puppets off the girls' hands, and laughed hysterically when Gloria would pretend the alligator was eating his arm.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Krispy Kreme Field Trip

Today we took a field trip to Krispy Kreme donuts to watch how they make donuts. We never eat there, so this was a real treat for the girls. I think it's been about 2 years since Daniel and I've been there. They read the info on the window that talks about each step of the process and were fascinated by all of it. They loved the "icing waterfall" that the donuts went through.

They especially loved getting to eat one of "their" donuts hot and fresh. I guess after watching those donuts work their way slowly through (we came as a new batch was starting) they felt sort of propietary about them. They also enjoyed wearing the hats and picking out a few special donuts. Later I took them to a playground and we played "donut shop". Gloria was the baker and had so much fun making and selling us imaginary donuts!

14 months - but acting like a 2 year old

I've never had a 1 year old quite like Kevin. Danya was somewhat talkative. Gloria waited until she was about 2 1/2 before saying much. Kevin will probably be correcting my grammar before he's 2. Today he popped up with three new words and can make the sign for milk! It's like he pays attention to what we're saying to him, logs it in his memory banks along with the correct meaning, and then just begins using it immediately. It's wild!

Today he started telling me "sna" and pointed to the pantry closet, rejecting every offer until I realized that he wanted a fruit snack. I've been saying "milk" and making the sign (opening and shutting my hand like I'm squeezing a cow's udders) since he was born every time he would nurse or we'd give him a cup of milk. Today he just casually started making the sign perfectly and saying "mik" as if he'd been doing it his whole life. He also recently started saying, "tas" which means trash, as he throws away his own diaper. He'll actually get mad if we throw his diaper away for him. He even crawls up to us, pats his pants, and says "poop" when he needs to be changed.

Seriously, I have never experienced anything like this! Someone please tell me that other 14 month olds do this, too. It's like he's a 5 year old trapped in a baby body. Another funny thing happened today when I was sitting on the floor downstairs reading a Magic Treehouse book to the girls. Kevin crawled over to the bookcase, pulled out some of his books and started waving them at me hollering to let me know that he expected me to read him a book, too, lol. This kid is definitely going to be a challenge!


Wednesday was the first night of AWANAS for Danya and Gloria. They both had fun and had friends there. The folks in charge even put them in the same group which was really great since each of their best friends were put in different groups.

We're trying to hunt down Danya's book from last year that she didn't complete so that we don't have to buy another. Gloria has to start from scratch since the wacky church we were at briefly last year never gave us the book and we just gave up and left since the girls hated it there. I also thought we had Gloria's vest already, so I'm looking for that, too.

I was going to have them start some new memorization work this week, but with all the AWANAS verses to memorize plus the TruthQuest stuff for Sunday mornings, I think they've got plenty on their plates right now. I do love the fact that AWANAS teaches them so many verses. Growing up I hardly knew any bible stories, no verses, and probably couldn't tell you the name of an actual book of the bible. I could sing "The B-I-B-L-E" though, thanks to a few short weeks spent at one of those fire and brimstone Baptist churches that sent buses to round up kids on Sundays.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Indoor P.E.

Besides family wrestling, lol, we do occasionally have P.E. indoors on super hot, cold, or rainy days. Now, being the super-mom that I am (not!) I also count playing at McDonald's playland as P.E. If we can't do that, we have a variety of indoor games:

1. Family aerobics class: This means we all have to participate and that each person gets one minute to do any exercise they want and everyone has to do it. So Gloria might choose jumping jacks, Danya would do situps, I would do toe touches, and Daniel would pick jogging in place. We take turns and everyone gets about three turns to lead the exercises.

2. Dance Class: We put on a kids' music CD that has lots of short songs on it. Then, just like aerobics class, we take turns inventing a silly dance. Each family member gets to lead the class during one song. When the song changes the leader changes and so does the crazy dance. The bonus is that the songs are educational too!

3. Clean up Your Own Backyard: We make a line with yarn or whatever we have handy down the middle of the room. Then we toss out either light plastic balls, bean bags, or wadded up paper all over both sides of the area. When the music starts we have to race to throw all the junk from our side to our opponents side. When the music stops whoever has the cleanest "yard" wins.

4. Classic Games: Mother May I?, Simon Says, Follow the Leader, Red Light/Green Light. Also, you can set objects at one end of the room and have them run to grab one, run back, drop it at the start line and continue until all the items are moved to the opposite side of the room. Now can they do it while bear crawling? Crab walking? Hopping on one foot? Duck walking? I don't recommend running backwards because they are very likely to fall and get hurt. (Don't ask how I know this, lol.)

5. Who Can Find?: We've played this since they were very little. I ask, "Who can find...?" and then fill in the blank with colors, shapes, textures, sizes, etc. For instance, "Who can find something made of wood?" or "Who can find something bigger than my shoe but smaller than a backpack?" You can also use it for math or spelling. "Who can find 7 - 5 things?" They have to round them up and bring them back. The exercise part is that they are running all over the house frantically to locate the objects and bring them to you or just touch them. For spelling, "Who can find a p-e-n-c-i-l?" For Spanish, "Donde esta la mesa?" They love playing this game in Spanish!

P.E. Reinvented

I loved P.E. (for the most part) in elementary school. When we have more kids we'll buy a few things like a parachute and some scooters so that we can play some of the same games we loved so much as kids. For now, though, we have to invent our own games or find ideas in books that will work for just two young kids. Here are some of the things we've done so far:

1. Olympics Day: When we were studying Ancient Greece we used chalk to mark off the beginning and ends of the race areas. We raced together and then separately using timers. We also had a long jump, running long jump, and discus throw (with frisbees).

2. Ball Experiment Day: We brought all the different sports balls we could find in the house outside. We had a basketball, football, soccer ball, tennis ball, big bouncy ball, baseball, etc. With each one we tried kicking it, hitting it with a bat, throwing it, rolling it, and dribbling it. Then we discussed why each one was designed the way it is for a specific game.

3. Races for balance, agility, and speed: We time the kids to see how fast they can cross the monkey bars (Danya keeps track of her current record), run around the perimeter of an area, etc. We also race at infrequent intervals to the next bench, stop sign, etc when we are on family walks.

4. We also have days where we play tennis, kickball, baseball, or other regular games.

5. Chalk Games: Hopscotch of course, and then we also create "treasure hunts" where we mark arrows in chalk as we walk on a crazy route outside. Then the other child has to follow the marks to the treasure. Sometimes we write their schoolwork like math problems (or shapes, color, numbers, letters when they were little) in chalk on the driveway and have them race to see who can step on the answer the fastest.

If I think of any more I'll let you know! Right now it's time to go eat lunch. Grilled cheese and tomato soup, yum! The smell is filling the whole house!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Moving Dirt

Daniel and the girls worked hard this morning beginning the process of landscaping our back yard. They had to level a dirt mound and move it to some areas that needed it. Daniel would stick the shovel in the hard dirt then jump into the air using his body weight to sink the spade into the ground. The new wheel barrow I gave him for our anniversary came in handy.

Danya used a smaller shovel to help and to flatten out the areas where the dirt was moved to. Gloria was the dirt packer. She walked and stomped on top of the newly spread dirt to pack it down. They all had fun until it got too hot to work. Kevin was the water boy. He brought them water and then yelled at them until they gave it back so he could drink some. Then he shook it and watched the mud form.

We're doing our homeschooling in the afternoon today instead of starting at 9am like we usually do. Daniel and the kids needed the cool part of the morning for the heavy labor they were doing.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Our Homeschool in a Nutshell

Just recently Homeschool Housewife said in the comments section of a previous post:
I would love to know your schedule and any tips.
So I went back through the archives of my posts listed on the right hand side of this blog to see where I had last discussed our schedule. Here's what I came up with:

Our Daily Schedule (except now Kevin is weaned)
Our Daily Homeschooling (what we do for school each day)
Record Keeping (for proof and memories of what they've learned)
Documenting Their Work (for things that we can't keep)

Let me know if it's helpful to have these links because I'm thinking of adding them to the sidebar of this blog for anyone who finds this blog in the future and doesn't want to wade through a couple of years worth of posts to find the answers. I'm also going to try to go back through the archives to compile a list of project ideas I've blogged about and posts about the homeschooling materials we use most often. That way if you remember reading about an idea a few months back and are finally ready to try it, you can just find the link in the sidebar.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mixing it Up

We are about 50 days into our homeschooling year so far right now. For those of you who stick to a regular school year, just imagine that it feels like mid-November for us. This is the point where a little bit of change is necessary to avoid boredom with the same old routine day after day.

Therefore, last week we did something a bit different. We devoted a few days to homeschooling purely through reading. No worksheets! No workbooks! It was alot of fun. I let them draw pictures about the stories we were reading and do art projects. They drew wonderful pictures of bible stories like poor Job covered in sores. Danya even added a cartoon of Job's wife saying, "Curse God and die!" They also made Chinese paper lanterns while we read the Magic Treehouse book about China "Day of the Dragon King". That book led to a great discussion about rulers who have burned or banned books around the world and how some governments control the people of their country through controlling reading, learning, and education.

We used some of the books that we read for math, too. We did multiplication, addition, and subtraction while acting like monkeys and reading "Caps for Sale". This week we are adding five new states for them to memorize. We're also having them paint one state bird and flower each day. I've got a reproducible book of all 50. Did I mention that I love my copier? We also made a matching game for math (pictured above). The math problem will be on the cow and the answer is on it's bell. After they help the cows find their bells they'll get to write their names on the big cow. I'm going to attach a sign to it that says, "I herd you were smart!"